Tag: brainstorm

 

Posted on by Steven Savage

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Last time I discussed the many creative challenges we face – and how I solve it with a Brainstorm Book.

At it’s simplest the idea of the Brainstorm Book is that you have something you write ideas in, and then extract them at a later time. I’ve got specific methods and ways of doing this that make it extremely effective.

But before we get to those methods let’s get to the Book

Finding Your Brainstorm Book

For your Brainstorm Book, find one that is a reasonable size, that you can easily carry around in your pack/pocket/purse, and that you can attach, clip, or stick a pen in. You want something you can get to at a moment’s notice and start writing.

Usually, I go for books that are about 4” x 6” – they fit into anything but art still large enough to write in. You may find that other sizes and features fit you. However, for the first time don’t go waiting, go get a Brainstorm Book now.

You can always get a new one when this one is filled up – and it will be.

Note I only say one Brainstorm Book. In general, I avoid carrying more than one Brainstorm Book at a time so I have only the one book to go to. You may find that more than one is needed, but start with the one – I will discuss these cases later.

Let’s keep it simple.

Using The Brainstorm Book

So you’ve got this thing, now what do you do with it?

Keep the Brainstorm Book with you at all times if possible – and make sure a pen or other writing instrument is with you as well. If you have trouble doing this, find ways to keep it close -or think about a smaller book.

The reason you keep the Brainstorm Book with you is that as soon as you have a worthwhile idea, you do the following.

  1. Put a date at the top of the page – so you know when you had an idea.
  2. Jot the idea down immediately in the Brainstorm book. If you have several ideas it’s fine to put them on the same page if it’s the same date.
  3. You don’t have to flesh the idea out in detail. The goal is not to explore it but to record enough information for you to reconstruct the idea in your head.
  4. If you can’t write it down, take a note elsewhere, send yourself an email by phone, what ever you can do. Just get it back in the book as soon as is reasonable.

This is simple – you’re recording your ideas. But it raises two questions – what is worthwhile and what is enough information.

Deciding If An Idea Is Worthwhile

How do you know that the inspiration that just waltzed into your brain is worth putting into your Brainstorm Book? On some days we might be writing in our Brainstorm Book for hours, and we have stuff to do.

First and foremost, when in doubt, write it down – especially when starting out. Get the ideas out of your head because you’ll review them later. The habit of writing down ideas is important.

Secondly, most of the time you’ll just know an idea is good. You’ll feel something line in in your head, with your goals, with what you like. Some ideas just feel right – those should be written down.

Third, pause for a moment and ask if there’s any value to the idea – to yourself or others. An idea may need to be analyzed more before it’s value is apparent, or you’re not sure, or someone else may like it. If there’s something useful there, even if you’re unsure, record it.

In time, recording inspirations is something you’ll get better at. It’s a skill you develop.

But while recording them, we also ask just how much detail is needed.

Proper Level Of Detail In The Brainstorm Book

Next, you decide to record an idea – but how much do you write down? Some of us can get an idea and go on for ages with it. Some of us have.

I record the right amount of information I need to reconstruct the idea in my head – essentially to re-inspire me. That inspiration didn’t vanish when you wrote it down and went back to other things. That idea is still in your mind, you just find what words and phrases help bring it back into your mind.

Most essential wild ideas can be recorded in a sentence or two. “Color code our department workflow by skillset” and “Steampunk dragon fighters of the Old West” may be all you need to write down. Again, you’ll find what works for you personally – and on an individual basis for each idea.

If more detail is needed – or is present in your mind – go ahead and record what seems reasonable. However, there’s really no border between thinking over an idea and developing an idea. You can, easily, find yourself lost in your latest inpiration, creating pages of thoughs.

You need to make the call how far you have to go and should go – and how valuable the idea is. However I like to separate the “detailed fleshing out” from the “writing down the idea” so I can get back to whatever I was doing and not be distracted. Such an attitude also helps us get better at reconstructing deas.

Why The Brainstorm Book Matters

If you do this for a few weeks, you’ll probably notice some if not all of the following happening to you:

  • You worry less about not being inspired because you see your inspiration at work each time that book is opened.
  • You get more inspired because as you write ideas down – and see past ideas – more ideas come to mind.
  • You’ll worry less about losing ideas – because you’re writing them down.
  • You focus on what ideas are worth it early on – allowing you to find more inspirations or avoid distraction.
  • Because ideas are being recorded, you can get back to other things you were doing.
  • You gain a better understanding of how to record information so you can recall ideas later.
  • Just having this book helps removes many of the fears that plague creative people as noted earlier.

But it’s not just recording things. Next we’ll talk about how to review it.

– Steve

Posted on by Steven Savage

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Hello everyone, and welcome to my new column series. It’s a followup to an old series I did on how to use a brainstorm book. I’ve decided I need to rewrite to include my later insights, improve the writing, and explore it further.  If all goes well I might turn it into a book.

But let’s get to what’s important – the Challenges of Creativity.  These are why you need some method anyway.

Creative Challenges That Plague Us

Creativity is something we all rely on. For some of us, such as writers and graphic artists, it may be the core part of our careers. For others, it may be part of what we do, like creating presentations or infographics. Even if creative work isn’t part of our career it may well be part of our hobbies, recreations, and goals.

To be creative, as so many of us need to be, we need inspirations. We need those lighting-bolt ideas that come out of the blue, or slowly—incubated dreams that suddenly come to life. Inspiration is where the connections come together so we can make new things.

The problem is that creativity brings in a lot of challenges – a lot to fear.

We fear a lack of inspiration. We are terrified that our new ideas and innovations will just dry up. Without those creative sparks, we can’t do what we want to do – and the fear of losing them makes it worst.

We might fear too much innovation. Ideas come thick and fast, new possibilities intrude on our thoughts as we’re dealing with past inspirations. We get overloaded trying to keep up with what we might do – it almost makes a lack of inspiration welcome.

We fear losing ideas. No matter how many we have, too many or too few, we need to keep track of them to cultivate them and develop them. How we track them and evaluate them becomes critical to our creative work.

We fear not knowing how to focus. We have our dreams and ideas, we want to develop them – but which do we focus on? What creative work comes next?

We fear not knowing how to plan long term. It’s a problem to focus short term, but how do we arrange all these ideas for long-term? Will some never come to fruition? Should others be moved up in priority?

We fear being blocked. What do we do next? Why did this great idea suddenly stop energizing us? Perhaps the greatest fear creative people have is when things just stop in our heads.

If you sit back and think about it, creative work can be very stressful. Thinking over what can go wrong can paralyze us and make our creative efforts even harder to do. There’s an irony in that.

. . . maybe I shouldn’t have brought it up.

However, even if I’ve suddenly destroyed your confidence, I do have a solution I’ll be discussing in the upcoming blog posts – what I call a Brainstorm Book method.

The Brainstorm Book – A Quick Overview

The Brainstorm Book Method is actually three things.

  • First, it’s a physical thing – a book you record ideas in. You use this book to capture ideas.
  • Second, it’s a system – a way to use those ideas to maximize your creativity and prioritize them. You review the book at certain intervals, capturing and prioritizing ideas regularly.
  • Third, it’s a philosophy – a way to think about creativity. This helps you innovate and make your own methods or tweak my methods to fit you.

I’ll be exploring this method over the weeks to come – to help you out with your creative work and maybe put some of those fears to rest.

Remember, this is not just for artists or writers. This is for anyone that needs to imagine, dream, and creative – which is really anyone. From home cooks innovating new recipies to someone trying to figure out better memo systems on the job, we all create.

So, next column, let’s talk about your Brainstorm Book.  Er, the physical one.

– Steve

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